Family driving holidays can be fun for everyone – unless car sickness spoils your adventures and your upholstery! Trust me, with my folks living a two hour drive away and a grandparent addicted toddler who is prone to spectacular bouts of car sickness, I know!
While infants rarely suffer from car sickness, it’s actually very common for toddlers and preschool aged children to. Given they spend so much time in deliriously giddy non-stop motion, it’s kind of ironic that these are the years that often mark the arrival of motion sickness, particularly in the car!
Motion sickness is a physical response resulting from a conflict between eye and ear. The inner ears detect that a car is moving but the eyes, when focused on something that is inside the vehicle, don’t. The conflicting signals are sent to the brain and nausea is often the unpleasant result. In the car, smaller children often can’t see outside which aggravates the problem.
If your little one is habitually unhappy in the car, motion sickness may be the cause. Young kids generally can’t explain clearly how they’re feeling so it is really important to keep an eye out for early signs which may include sudden pallor, cold sweat and fatigue.
Here are some of our tried and tested tricks for preventing car sickness that you may find helpful to ease the quease.
- Be sure that your toddler’s head is well-supported in the car seat to prevent unnecessary head movement.
- Feed your toddler a light snack before travelling but always avoid greasy and hard-to-digest food. Keep snacks and drinks light – dry cackers and plain water are ideal.
- Don’t allow your child to get too hot. Keep the car cool and well ventilated – a nauseous child may feel better if a window is open and they’re getting a little fresh air.
- Looking at books and toys in the car can make nausea worse, so try and encourage your child to look out of the window and concentrate on the horizon if they complain of feeling sick and stick on an audio book for distraction. The middle of the back seat is the safest place for a child seat and makes it easier for little ones to look ahead.
- Plan for frequent stops to blow off all that pent up toddler energy.
- Car sickness is less likely to occur during sleep as the eyes are not receiving any stimuli so planning for your journey to be made during their sleep time may help.
- Ginger is said to have anti-nausea properties so a packet of ginger biscuits can prove helpful and tasty.
In addition to an up-to-date family first aid kit, it is a good idea to carry a car sickness kit on long journeys. The car sickness kit should be kept within easy reach for emergencies and include;
- Clean cool water for drinking as well as soothing clammy brows.
- Baby wipes, baby wipes and more baby wipes. There is never such a thing as too many.
- A change or two of clothes in a plastic bag (for storing soiled and soggy clothes)
- An old towel or cloth nappies to drape over your toddler if they are feeling unwell.
- A reasonably sized container (with a fitted lid) that your child can easily hold onto if they feel like they might be sick.